Wednesday 1 September 2010

Butterflies like a photo

Blogger has now made stats available to users. This is interesting although I've always had a Sitemeter counter on the blogs.

Peacock Butterfly - we've not seen so many of these this year, I'm guessing the very cold winter killed most of them in hibernation, so I'm hoping for a long warm autumn to allow the summer brood to hatch and mature.

The new stats along with a lot of comment on the food blogs about a blogger's conference in North America somewhere focussing on site engine optimisation (SEO) has made me consider the sort of traffic I get to my blogs.

The common blue butterfly is very variable which makes identification a problem. There are several similar species and in all of them there are differences between the males and females. We've also had Holly blues this year but I've not managed to get a good picture of one.

Of course, I would like to get more people reading, enthralled with my life and writing. Everyone likes to be noticed. On the other hand, the sort of cynical approach needed to flag the attention of the search robots isn't really my style.

small tortoiseshell
We don't see that many Small Tortoiseshells (and I think I've never seen a Large one!). I think of them, with Peacocks, as the quintessential butterfly of my youth but I don't know if the reduced numbers we have here are because conditions are wrong or general environmental decline.

What people attempting SEO are really doing of course, is increasing traffic past their advertising. It's just to maximise revenue. I tried adverts here for a while and accumulated a massive £10 over six months, well below the level that Google would pay out so I gave it up as a bad job. I like money as well as the next person but I'd like to be paid directly really. It's all about recognition for me. Having said that, I noticed on another blog someone had published a link to an Amazon wishlist. Now that appeals, if anyone loves my work enough to buy me a present!

The Ringlets hang out in the dappled shade of the woodland edge feeding on blackberry flowers and being rather shy. Not a showy butterfly but sweet enough.

Looking at the stats it becomes clear that the most traffic is generated to the articles I've written that are rather more on the edge. The most popular, for example, is the one about magic mushrooms and others that get a lot of attention are for odd vegetables and fruit. More worryingly, there is nothing in the list of most read posts written this year.

white butterfly
The white butterflies are so frequent that they are almost overlooked, but there are a lot varieties in and around the woods. The Large and Small whites are pests of brassicas which means I've been contributing to their demise this year by squashing caterpillars and eggs on my cabbages. This makes me feel bad so next year we'll go back to caging the veg. to keep the butterflies off. I have patches of sacrificial nasturtiums for their nurseries.

I did realise that for the last couple of years, my output was dropping off both in quantity and quality. This is partly due to having said a lot of it before, some to do with personal issues, perhaps a little blog fatigue. I mean, is there anybody there?

The Gatekeeper is quite common around here but along with the Meadow Brown (not pictured but plentiful this year) is quite shy of being photographed. This one posed quite obligingly for a change.

So I suppose I have a choice, increase my output of whacky researched articles or, another route to success, include a lot of personal details about sex and drugs and rock'n'roll. Some of the most popular blogs I've seen rely on that to get readers.

tatty wall butterfly
The Wall butterfly is under threat and I'd never seen one before we came here although they have been common in the UK. This one is a bit tatty, one of the perils of feeding in the thistle patch.

But I think I'm still not ready to prostitute my soul to strangers. Isn't living a self sustaining, wildlife friendly, fruit and vegetable growing, back to nature lifestyle in a foreign country enough. Or am I in an interest minority of very few to one?

wall butterfly underwing
The Wall has a particularly pretty underwing.

I think I'm so lucky here and I really want to share it, but perhaps it comes across as smug self satisfaction.

female sooty copper
Probably a female Sooty Copper. Like the Blues the Coppers are very difficult to identify. It's even possible to confuse Blues and Coppers, unlikely as that sounds. A couple of days ago I thought I'd spotted a Brown Argus too, but the butterfly didn't hang around long enough and the picture wasn't good enough for certain identification.

What brings people here by chance is almost entirely search engine results for images although there's a small trend of visitors from Dandelion [waves]. At least the search terms used are fairly innocuous - on the food blog one is 'cat chopped up in blender' which is bit worrying.

painted lady
The Painted Ladies are migratory or at least, they come up from the south. Opinion is divided as to whether any of them ever make it back. Last year we had plenty, this year just one or two. The same applies to the Clouded Yellows, just one this year and do they hate being photographed?

So which way is the wind blowing? I don't know. Perhaps my skills would be better directed towards a book or a more formal informational site? At the moment, blogging seems to fit in fairly snugly as something complementary to my other activities but perhaps it's sapping energy and direction. Perhaps it's responsible for all the world's ills. Maybe I should concentrate on my painting, or even the weeding?

jersey tiger moth
Jersey Tiger moths aren't butterflies, but it's not obvious. They are brightly coloured and fly by day. What is the difference between a moth and butterfly anyway?

Originally I only expected blogging to provide a journal of my days for friends and family but my ambitions have grown. Sometimes it feels good to pull together experiences, pictures and research that might interest or help others doing the same sort of thing but without viewers it's a bit like sex without an orgasm - lovely but doesn't quite get me there. Who said I couldn't drive search engine traffic!

The Brimstone is another butterfly that flies twice a year. This is one of the summer produced insects and possibly the best photo we've ever taken of one. They just won't sit still. This shot is one of Paul's.

Just a reminder, all content and images are copyrighted, either by me or Paul (or just occasionally another originator). I've not noticed much of an issue with people ripping me off on this site. On the other blog there is a common problem that many bloggers experience but I'm not even going to mention it here. Not all robots are as benign as the Google and Nachobots.

speckled wood
There are plenty of pretty Speckled Wood butterflies around here. Also reputedly in the forest there are Marsh Fritillaries. I'd really like to see one of those.

Which raises another question, when is a lot of attention too much attention? I do worry a bit about people identifying my exact location because of the snippets of personal information that inevitably get revealed. I don't want the blog to become the target for some of the attacks that I've seen happen to others. Like being on Facebook or Twitter it requires discipline to keep the details locked down but I suspect that anyone with a really evil agenda could use the information here against me, either directly or virtually. Is that paranoid?

red admiral 2
Red Admirals are so big and strong and impressive looking. We have quite a lot at the moment feeding on the fallen plums.

Also spotted this year but not pictured here - the summer form of the Map butterfly, a female Lesser Purple Emperor and probably, a Swallowtail butterfly. We've also seen caterpillars for the Swallowtails and a new one to us, the caterpillar of the Willowherb Hawk moth. Perhaps we need to have a session trapping the night flying moths for photography - there are some magnificent creatures out there.

So this is my blog about butterflies and SEO. I shall be tracking it closely in the future and I hoped you enjoyed it. Please say something!


Harpy said...

Blimey, I haven't read the entry properly yet but those butterfly pictures are amazing. Will have to pick your brains about cameras because Mike has problems photographing insects before they fly off - maybe the problem is technique rather than camera though


Rose said...

Beautiful butterflies. What wonder, and great photos. I love the common blue one; such exquisite color and delicate markings.

The Brimstone's wings look just like leaves! How clever.

I'm like you...I really don't have the heart to kill insects in the usually end up sharing, or just sacrificing :) Nettings and covering do work well though...I'm often just not diligent enough about that.

Regarding the blog traffic etc...I personally enjoy your blogs a on a farm in France sounds so idyllic...I love to imagine how peaceful and beautiful it must be there.

You do seem to have so much knowledge and expertise around horticulture/agriculture and other naturalist topics...I'm sure any more formal works on those would meet success.

I suffer from blog fatigue too...sometimes I feel like it, sometimes I couldn't care less, a lot of times I feel a bit self-conscious about it, but I stick with it mainly to connect with like-minded people around the globe when they can seem so few and far between on the ground.

Hope you keep blogging, but whatever you decide, I'm sure you'll make a great success of it.

Catofstripes said...

Hi Alison, any quality in the photo is really down to the equipment - I know nothing about photography at all. I use P's second best rig, a Nikon D40 with a Nikon 18-200MM F3.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR DX, quite an expensive set up. The other thing that makes a difference is having access to the insects all the time, I can just wait for a good shot to appear. I still sometimes wish I could stick a pin through them! Only joking.

Thanks Rose, that's encouraging. I hope I can keep finding things that will interest you.

Harpy said...

Thanks for the camera ref which I've passed on. Part of the problem with photographing insects seems to be that they don't settle long enough to be focused on but I suppose that may be a matter of practice. Of course the butterfly-photographing opportunities round here are a bit limited anyway but we have plenty of bees, hoverflies etc

Catofstripes said...

aha, Alison, you want the secrets of the butterfly whisperer! Unfortunately, I still haven't found out what they are myself.

The best way to make the bugs hang around is to offer them a good meal. Most of the photos are taken on a big patch of flowering mint in my (soon to be) herb garden. The woodland butterflies like the brambles and everything loves thistles. A few buddleias don't hurt either. We plan to increase our butterfly friendly plantings and see if we can entice anything else to visit.

Harpy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harpy said...

There is a huge great buddleia on the railway embankment but for some reason we still don't see many butterflies round here. I think you're right about the hearty meals though - you can see on Mike's flickr page that he was successful photographing bees on a sunflower. We have plenty of other stuff for them but smaller flowers don't seem to detain them long enough to be photographed.

evi said...

love it! did you made the pictures yourself?:$

Becky said...

Having arrived by next blog, I found myself captivated by your butterflies. So many of them are new to me. I still consider my blog to be my garden journal. When I keep that focus and don't worry about who in the world reads it, it stays fun for me. That being said, You could give it a look if you want!